The outboard power-supply for the turntable motor attaches to the motor housing via a supplied umbilical. Speed is selected via three lighted capacitive buttons built into the plinth—one for 33.3 rpm, one for 45, and one for 78. (The selected button changes color and intensity to indicate that it is the one that is “on.”) The Viella 12 has perhaps the most elegant speed- adjustment procedure of any turntable I’ve used. You simply hold down whichever speed-button you want to adjust for five or six seconds, which puts that speed into “memory mode.” You then press one or the other of the remaining two buttons to gradually increase (topmost of the two) or decrease (bottommost) rotational speed as your strobe or software indicates. It is a simple and fool-proof system of extremely high accuracy of .1%. Every turntable should be this easy to work with.
As elegant and beautifully made as his turntable is, it is Roeschlau’s dual-pivot tonearm that is the star attraction. Even though it doesn’t look like much at first glance—a twelve-inch- long, perfectly straight, pencil-thin, black-anodized, aircraft- aluminum arm-tube with a shiny, two-piece, decoupled stainless- steel counterweight at its bearing end and a black headshell at the cartridge one—this nondescript item involves a truly ingenious bit of engineering that, as far as I know, has never been implemented before in a tonearm.
As I said earlier, Roeschlau is an aeronautical engineer who spent several decades piloting international flights for Lufthansa. He not only flew jet airplanes for a living; he also flew gliders and helicopters. And it is the latter that gave him the idea for his unique toneram bearing. Apparently, ’copters use thick “spring-steel wires” to keep their rotors precisely aligned in the rotorheads. Thinking that a bearing that was good enough to keep high-precision, high-torque mechanisms like helicopter rotors precisely aligned and constrained was good enough to keep a high-precision, low-torque tonearm in place, Roeschlau adapted the idea to fit his V12. Using two 0.5mm-thick spring- steel wires he created a helicopter-like vertical tonearm bearing. It may sound a bit wild (and it is certainly unconventional), but judging by the sonic results his spring-steel bearing works exceptionally well, not only constraining vertical movement but also allowing fine azimuth adjustment while simultaneously eliminating bearing-chatter (as there are no bearings to “chatter”). The V12’s horizontal bearing comprises hardened tool-steel axles “precision-ground to a backlash-free fit with needle roller- bearings.” Once again, judging by the incredibly high resolution and extraordinarily precise, lifelike imaging that this ’arm is capable of (which, in my experience, bespeaks superb tracking and tracing), it too works like a charm.
Not only is Roeschlau’s ’arm a veritable sonic vacuum cleaner when it comes to the recovery of low-level detail, it is also highly and easily adjustable. An acoustically-decoupled precision locking system built into the bearing housing allows you to change VTA during play, while acoustically-decoupled magnets also built into the bearing housing provide adjustable (and defeatable) magnetic anti-skating.
Even though I’d heard the AMG V12 sound great at several different trade shows, in rooms that were either nominated for or won my Best of Show awards, I didn’t honestly expect it to compete with my far-more-expensive references. And, to be fair, in certain hi-fi respects it doesn’t, though the degree to which it falls short of the these much pricier ’tables and ’arms depends a bit on the cartridge being used. I’ve mentioned the V12’s tauter, somewhat leaner and less bloomy deep bass, its slightly (and I mean oh-so-slightly) less expansive soundstaging, and its cooler, “top-down” tonal balance, though the Ortofon A90, as noted, is certainly playing a highly significant role in all three of these areas, as well as in the V12’s strengths. (With the fuller, richer, less “analytical” Goldfinger Statement, for example, the AMG is considerably fuller and richer in bass and balance, bespeaking the V12’s exceptional transparency to sources, though it is still not, let it be noted, quite as full and rich in bass or balance as the Walker, Da Vinci, or Acoustic Signature with the same cartridges.) Nonetheless, the little that the Viella 12 may be lacking here and there is overwhelmingly made up for by its core strength. Let’s face it: When it comes to high fidelity, realism (on those records that are capable of sounding realistic) is the whole she-bang. Everything else doesn’t matter—or doesn’t matter nearly as much. And, as noted, this contraption sounds real.